NEWARK, N.J. – A Georgia man was arraigned today on conspiracy and fraud charges after surrendering to federal authorities, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.
Isaac Newton, 53, of Loganville, Georgia, is charged by indictment with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, five counts of wire fraud, two counts of mail fraud, and one count of unlawfully obtaining $5,000 or more from a federally funded local government. He appeared by videoconference before the U.S. Magistrate Judge James B. Clark III, entered a plea of not guilty, and was release on $100,000 unsecured bond.
According to the indictment:
Newton was a consultant whose family member was enrolled in a graduate program at a university in New Jersey with Willis Edwards III, a public official in the local government of the City of Orange Township, New Jersey.
From June 2015 to June 2016, Newton and Edwards conspired to dupe Orange into making payments to Newton, which were, at least in part, for academic papers that Newton arranged to have written for Edwards. Edwards plagiarized the papers that Orange paid for and passed them off as his own work to professors at the university. Between December 2015 and March 2016, Newton submitted three fraudulent invoices to Orange calling for payments of $12,000, $16,000, and $10,000 for purported professional services. Orange paid the money to Newton, and Edwards received from Newton academic papers that had been written for Edwards. On June 20, 2016, Edwards submitted to several professors papers that were virtually identical to the papers that he had received from Newton. In emails sent to the professors, to which the papers were attached, Edwards asked the professors to grade the attached outstanding assignments so that he did “not receive a failing grade for all of the hard work that [he had] done.”
On Sept. 29, 2020, Edwards was charged in a 31-count superseding indictment, Counts 17 to 25 of which are related to the charges contained in Newton’s indictment. His case is pending trial.
Each count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, mail fraud and wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The count of unlawfully obtaining more than $5,000 from a local government receiving federal funds is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr. in Newark; special agents of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Christina Scaringi; and special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael Montanez, with the investigation leading to the charges.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys J Fortier Imbert and Cari Fais of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Special Prosecutions Division.
The charge and allegations contained in the indictments are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.